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Childsmile is a national oral health programme designed to improve the oral health of children in Scotland, reduce inequalities in oral health and improve access to dental services through a combination of tailored and universal interventions.

With Scotland's poor record of dental caries, Childsmile was developed out of the dental action plan and represents one of the largest programmes of work aimed at improving oral health and combating oral health inequalities in the UK. Funded by the Scottish Government, it has four main elements:

  • Childsmile Core programme (supervised tooth brushing and free dental packs)
  • Childsmile Practice, which promotes oral health from birth
  • Childsmile Nursery, which provides preventive programmes for children in nursery
  • Childsmile School, which provides a school-based dental service for children aged four and older.

Health practitioners and the early years workforce generally are well-placed to promote public health programmes such as Childsmile to parents which will help improve the oral health of children.

The Childsmile Programme supports Curriculum for Excellence by promoting a holistic approach to healthy living and teaches children an important life skill. Children who attend school, childminders and after-school clubs should be offered healthy snacks and drinks as part of national initiatives to improve dental health and reduce childhood obesity. Supervised tooth brushing (free, daily, supervised tooth brushing at school) is available to P1 and P2 classes in schools situated in priority areas across the country.

It is the responsibility of the health practitioners and the wider early years workforce to promote public health programmes such as Childsmile to parents which will help improve oral health of children. 

The Childsmile website provides information about Childsmile programmes and how health professionals, school staff, dental practices, and parents and children can benefit from participating.

During the first five years of life, children are provided with a free fluoride toothpaste and an information leaflet on at least six occasions as part of the Childsmile programme. In addition, every three and four year old child attending nursery, whether local authority, voluntary or private nursery, can participate in free, daily, supervised tooth brushing within their nursery establishment. Children who are at greater risk of dental decay are likely to be given additional supplies of free toothpaste and toothbrushes – usually via their public health nurse or health visitor, or other health workers.